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Teen mental health summit planned for May 17

The Fairfax County school system will host what it calls a “community conversation” on teen mental health on Saturday, May 17, at Hayfield Secondary School.

The event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will focus on how teens can deal with stress and build resiliency, or the ability to bounce back from difficult situations. The community summit comes in the wake of four apparent suicides by Fairfax County high school students earlier this year.

The school district plans to bring together teens, parents, school and government officials and staff, mental health practitioners and community organizations. School officials want the event to serve not only as a venue to provide information and resources but also as a forum for discussion.

Session topics include handling large workloads, dealing with depression and more. The keynote speaker will be Brad Sachs, a psychologist and author who specializes in work with children, teens and families.

Interested parents, teens and community members can register for the event online at www.fcps.edu/dss/summit.

School Board recognizes teen drinking campaign

The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution on April 17 supporting the Unified Prevention Coalition’s “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” campaign.

The campaign, now in its eighth year, urges parents to comply with Virginia’s underage drinking laws with the tag line, “Don’t be a party to teenage drinking.” Throughout the month of May, the Unified Prevention Coalition aims to show parents the dangers of teenage drinking.

The 2012-2013 Fairfax County Youth Survey reported that 35 percent of high school seniors and 19 percent of tenth graders had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days.

The goal of the campaign is to stop parent-condoned parties for teens, complete with parent-provided alcohol. Instead, the Unified Prevention Coalition, an independent nonprofit that partners with school and government officials and community groups, encourages parents to host alcohol-free parties for their teens.

In supporting the campaign, the School Board notes in its resolution that parents’ prevention efforts, from talking with their children about responsible behavior to modeling that behavior themselves, are “critical, particularly during prom and graduation season.”

Mason Crest Elementary plants tree for Arbor Day

On Friday, students from Mason Crest Elementary School will plant a tree on school grounds to celebrate Arbor Day.

The planting will cap the students’ participation in an ecology education program. The program, called “Project Plant It!,” is sponsored by energy company Dominion and the Arbor Day Foundation.

Teachers receive a kit with lesson plans and instructional tools to help educate students about trees and their place in the ecosystem to support STEM learning. Students also will receive redbud tree seedlings to plant by their homes to further their hands-on learning experience.

— Kate Yanchulis